Published: 09th November 2020
VIDYA's Beyond School Programme is prepping government school kids with next gen skills
Rashmi Misra, Founder of VIDYA, an NGO that has a pan-India presence, tells us about one of their popular programmes that trains students in Computer Science, Spoken English and Lifeskills
When Dawood Ibrahim (no, not the mobster!) didn't know how to speak English, it was VIDYA's Beyond School Programme that came to his rescue. Today, Dawood is studying Mechanical Engineering in one of Bengaluru's famous colleges. That's how VIDYA, a non-profit organisation, changed his life. In fact, they funded his higher education as they found him to be curious to learn and shape his own future. Like Dawood, there are several students who have been benefitted from Beyond School Programme. But before we understand what exactly this programme is about, let's get to know how VIDYA came into existence.
Rashmi Misra, who is the founder of VIDYA, started her journey by teaching five girls of the same class at her house in the IIT Delhi campus. As the word spread, the founder realised that there are many kids across India who are in need of quality education at school. That's how VIDYA came into being in 1985. Today, they are present across different cities, including Gurugram, Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Pune, with 78 different projects that are meant to empower both women and children. One among them is the Beyond School Programme.
Recalling the times that lead them to start the programme, Rashmi says, "When we were implementing other projects at schools, we noticed that a lot of kids in Bengaluru were dropping out of school after class VII or X. The reason was simple and clear. Children didn't understand lecturers teaching in English once they reached college or high schools. Hence, we decided to launch the Beyond School programme. Under this programme, we make sure that kids in government schools learn essential skills like operating computers, speaking English and other important life skills."
Rashmi and her team began this project in the year 2010 and over 5,000 students have been benefitted from it so far. "Every day, when school gets over, our volunteer teachers conduct Computer Science and English classes. These classes happen for two hours a day. The students not only learn the required skills but they enjoy attending the classes because the modules that we have designed are simple and based on interactive learning. Gradually, the school students become confident in dealing with the application of English language and perform better in the interviews and exams."
However, with the pandemic, VIDYA volunteers have also gone online. The team themselves crowdsourced funds to provide smartphones to thousands of kids across India so that their education doesn't come to a halt. "A lot of kids wait to attend English and Life skills classes because they get to learn something new every day. During the pandemic, our teachers visited these kids at home personally and provided them with activity books and worksheets. This helped us ensure that the students don't forget whatever we teach them online," explains Rashmi.
For volunteering, mentoring and any support to this NGO, you can write to firstname.lastname@example.org